Archive for the 'Coronavirus' Category


The prospect of a vaccine by Christmas dominates the front pages

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

The Government’s each way bet on which will be available first

go A month ago I wrote here of the experiences of a friend of mine who had just left hospital after being struck down with Covid19 and concluded that the only way this crisis would come to an end was when a vaccine or palliative was widely available.

Online Tramadol Reviews Her story was about the sheer awfulness of gasping for breath and then the incredible joy after arriving in hospital and getting oxygen. The totality of the pain, the physical discomfort when organs aren’t functioning properly and the worry that you might not make it – that these could be your last hours made worse without loved ones being present.

watch Thoughts like these are what’s dominated all our lives for months and why someone like me in a very high risk group has just been too scared to do normal things. Well the latest news about the Oxford vaccine and the government’s decision to place orders for that enter site and other possible alternatives is huge news which is reflected on the front pages this morning. The Times reports the Oxford development like this:

go A coronavirus vaccine could be available this year, Oxford University researchers said yesterday after a “milestone” clinical trial produced encouraging results. The vaccine stimulated “robust immune responses” and there were no serious side-effects in a phase-one trial involving about 1,100 healthy volunteers. The subjects displayed sufficient levels of neutralising antibodies, thought to be critical in protecting against viral infection, to give researchers grounds for optimism. A second important aspect of the immune system, T-cells, were also mobilised, according to a study in The Lancet.

Tramadol Online Illinois The government’s decision even before the trials are complete to commit to buying tens of millions doses of this and other possible vaccines could prove to be the most important political decision of the Johnson administration. For getting this to the people as fast as possible is going to be crucial.

Mike Smithson

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What happened to England’s top nurse after she refused to back lockdown bandit Cummings

Monday, July 20th, 2020

The story that won’t go away

go Even though it is getting on for two months since the Cummings lockdown breaking drive to Durham first made the headlines the story has re-emerged this afternoon with the appearance of England’s Chief Nurse, Ruth May, before the Commons public accounts committee.

Tramadol Bula Anvisa According to reports of this afternoon’s session there had been a trial run for her participation in the televised news conference in which she was asked about what Cummings did and she did not give him her backing. Later she was told she was no longer needed for the press conference. She said “It is indeed true I was dropped from the briefing but that happened to many of my colleagues as well”.

Buying Tramadol In Canada All this does, of course, is put the actions of Cummings back on the agenda and raises questions about how the government has been using the briefings. The need not to embarrass the PM appears to have taken priority over everything. No doubt Keir Starmer has made notes to raise this at a suitable moment in the future.

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Johnson’s Tories get their best Opinium voting numbers since before the reports of the Cummings lockdown trip to Barnard Castle

Saturday, July 18th, 2020

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It’s time to ban Americans

Saturday, July 18th, 2020

Voluntary, unenforced quarantine isn’t enough for high-Covid19 countries President Trump likes to congratulate himself on having closed the border to China in early February as an effective preventative measure against Covid-19. That he should do so isn’t too surprising: congratulating himself is his default setting and his administration has routinely adopted an anti-China stance, as part of Trump’s efforts to rebalance the trade deficit between the two countries.

Tramadol Online Overnight Fedex Even so, while the measure was hardly sufficient, it was at least a step in the right direction. In truth, it didn’t prove effective because there were too many exemptions which the system couldn’t keep track of, and because the virus also found other ways in via alternative countries. Even so, it may well have been a significant factor in the first wave in the US developing around two weeks later than that in Europe. For once though, Trump’s instincts were right, albeit that they chimed with his pre-existing prejudices: strongly policed international borders are essential if all the domestic efforts in combating the virus are not to be undermined by importing cases from countries which lack either the will or the capability to fight it.

Purchase Tramadol Cod Shipping Which brings us to the question the government should be asking – and indeed, which the public and media should be asking: why has the UK government not implemented outright bans on countries with high levels of infections?

go to link At the moment, anyone entering the UK from outside the Common Travel Area (essentially, the British Isles), is supposed to self-quarantine for 14 days unless they’ve come from a country on the ‘safe’ list. However, whether people do or not is largely down to their personal sense of responsibility. The quarantine measures are not being closely policed and with no organised secure transport system between the international arrivals points and people’s places of quarantine, there are great big holes in the plan anyway.

see That seems far too lax an approach when the consequences of importing new cases could be so severe and the costs so high – all the more so when the two of the prime reasons why the pandemic has become so bad in some countries are a political and social culture of personal liberty and a downplaying of the seriousness (and the transmissability) of the disease.

follow Perhaps to the surprise of some, Britain proved very willing to abide the lockdown restrictions when they came in in March. The result of that lockdown was a reduction in the number of identified new cases from a peak of around 5000 per day in mid-April to about 600 per day now. In truth, the real peak will almost certainly have been considerably higher because testing capacity three months ago was a lot lower than it is now and many more cases will have gone undetected then. The UK’s current daily rate translates to around 9.0 new cases per day, per million population – which is perhaps the most useful comparable international metric. Is that low enough to justify the scale and speed of re-opening? The simple answer is that no-one knows. The government’s senior professional advisors throughout the pandemic – Prof Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Valance – were notably cautious about it in evidence to the Lords yesterday. Some other countries reported lower rates before re-opening and have since suffered a serious second outbreak: Israel, for example, whose new infections fell from a peak of 68 cases per million per day to just 1.5 in late May, before taking off again to such an extent that the 7-day average hit 175 yesterday – the equivalent of close to 12,000 daily new cases in the UK.

go site However, with the right data and an ability to respond quickly to local outbreaks, the government in London is hoping it can keep a lid on the virus without the severe restrictions of the Spring. And dealing with those local outbreaks is key. The 9.0 per million per day figure is a little misleading when it can vary from zero in some authorities to 146 in Leicester, as last week.

get link But that’s where the international dimension comes in. Test, track, trace and respond is only effective within a closed system. Once you start sprinkling new cases from outside, the controls break down – which is the theory behind quarantining travellers from at-risk countries. The question is whether the practice can be relied upon to match the theory, to such an extent that the costs in lives and pounds should it fail are an acceptable risk. I don’t think it can. But if it can’t be relied upon, what can we do? There are really only two options: either to place travellers from countries with a serious outbreak in a hard quarantine, or to ban them outright – although the two may in practice be much the same thing.

click here That’s the road that New Zealand, for example, has gone down. Its policy is to bar from entry almost all foreigners and to require those who can come to isolate for 14 days in a “managed isolation facility” before being able to properly enter the country. Even then, one blip four weeks ago enabled the virus to get back into circulation again after the country was briefly Covid19-free. It has not yet been re-contained. (As an aside, New Zealand has a general election two months tomorrow. At the start of the year – before the Covid-19 pandemic – Labour, which leads the current minority government there, was neck-and-neck with the conservative National Party. Jacinda Adern’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis has transformed that, with Labour not having polled below 50% since March and with five of the last six polls giving Labour a 25-30% lead. Such are the chances that Donald Trump missed.)

Cheap Tramadol Online Britain is not where New Zealand is but it’s doing far better than some other countries. For example, here’s a selection, using the same metric of daily cases (7 day average) per million of population:

  • UK 9.0
  • Brazil 164.2
  • Canada 9.6
  • France 9.1
  • Germany 4.7
  • Greece 3.2
  • Italy 3.1
  • Japan 3.1
  • New Zealand 0.2
  • South Africa 209.4
  • Spain 19.4
  • USA 204.0 (Florida: 552.1; Nevada: 342.5; New York: 47.0) If the UK government has decided that it’s tolerable to live with a low background rate of Covid-19, and that it can manage that level through large-scale testing, tracking and targeted action, then there’s a reasonable case to allow free travel to other countries (or to other regions within countries) with a similar or lower rate of infection. The flip-side, however, must be more stringent restrictions on countries with more severe outbreaks – and the greater the rate of infection, the more stringent the restrictions need to be. I would suggest that the government should introduce a three-tier, or traffic light system:

  • – Green, for countries with less than (say) a rate of below 20: free movement.
  • – Amber, for intermediate countries with a rate of (say) 20-50: self-isolation at entry/return to UK, as at present for countries not on the ‘safe’ list.
  • – Red, for countries with rates of (say) 50+: no entry other than in exceptional cases – and those cases to isolate for 14 days at secure locations.

see url In practice, the rules would need to be a little more complex than that. You couldn’t have on-off cases changing by the day for borderline countries, for example. But those details could be worked out without affecting the underlying principle.

go to site No doubt there would be a frosty reaction from those countries on which a ban was placed, most obviously from the USA, but the health of the government’s own country has to come first. Besides, it would be sensible – though perhaps not diplomatically possible – to try to get the EU to buy into the same policy, not least because the Republic of Ireland has a foot in both camps with its membership of the CTA.

The cost of the Covid-19 outbreak so far has been several hundred billions of pounds to the government, perhaps 60,000 lives and around a million redundancies (though that figure probably understates the true reality because of the government’s support for a great many jobs that are no longer viable), half a year’s schooling to the country’s children, and a great deal of anguish to millions, in so many different ways. Surely almost anything is preferable to going through that again?

David Herdson


Suddenly there’s the prospect of a vaccine, perhaps even by the end of the year

Thursday, July 16th, 2020

It has repeatedly been said over the last five months that the only way that life can really return back to normal will be if an effective vaccine becomes available. There have been reports that more than 100 research teams around the world are working hard on the challenge and now we’ve got news about two of them.

Firstly there is the Oxford vaccine which has attracted a lot of interest over the months because it was initially developed to deal with a similar virus to Covid 19 and the hope was that is could be adapted.

According to the Times this morning:

In a phase-one trial involving about 1,000 British volunteers, a University of Oxford vaccine appears to have stimulated the desired response from the immune system, The Times understands. The subjects are understood to have shown encouraging levels of neutralising antibodies, thought to be important in protecting against viral infection, and there were no serious side-effects. The results also indicated that another aspect of the immune system, known as T-cells, was mobilised. The researchers have yet to prove that this combined immune response is enough to protect against infection but if it had not been found it would have been a setback. “The Oxford team are very much still in the fight,” a source said.

At an early stage in the pandemic the UK government took a gamble on this succeeding with the intention of helping to get it out there as soon as it becomes possible to use.

If this is the case and it does work it will be a huge feather in the cap for PM Johnson and his team.

Meanwhile another vaccine developed by US biotech firm Moderna has shown promising results and an efficacy trial involving 30k people is set to begin by the end of the month.

Let us hope that this is not wishful thinking.

Mike Smithson


Compulsory face mask wearing – the Brexit divide

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

Above is today’s polling from YouGov on the compulsory wearing of face masks when at work. As can be seen there’s a relatively tight split, within the margin of error, on whether those sampled back or oppose the idea.

What I find interesting is the Referendum vote split with Remainers saying it should be compulsory by an 8% margin and Leavers saying it shouldn’t by the same margin.

The compulsory wearing highlights presents ideologically difficulties for those who, like ex-UKIP MP Douglas Carswell, want less state interference without acknowledging that means more are likely to die.

This all reminds me of the moves a few decades ago on the wearing of car seat belts being made compulsory which nowadays few find controversial. The objective is the same – to save lives,

The problem with the current framework is that it becomes complicated. Whereas you will have to wear a mask to buy a ready meal pack in the supermarket you don’t have to wear one if you are buying a takeaway for your dinner.

Mike Smithson


Well this is turning into quite the volte-facemasks from Boris Johnson

Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

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The decision to make mask wearing in shops compulsory dominates the front pages

Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

But is this another pandemic measure that should have been brought in earlier?

So the decision has last been made that shoppers in England should be forced by law to wear masks in shops but not till July 24th. Like other elements in Britain’s attempt to to contain the pandemic the big political issue has been on the timing. Should this have been brought in earlier?

The Independent notes:

As early as 21 April, the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) concluded that “on balance, there is enough evidence to support recommendation of community use of cloth face masks, for short periods in enclosed spaces, where social distancing is not possible”. The scientists stressed that non-medical coverings were of little use to protect the wearer from infection, but could help avoid an asymptomatic Covid-19 sufferer from passing on the disease to others. Mr Johnson has faced increasing criticism for shying away from a legal requirement to use them in shops. The Independent Sage group of scientists said that “face masks should be made mandatory in indoors spaces wherever possible”.

source site On the front pages it is the most tabloid of the tabloids, the Daily Star, that appears to be chiming with the public mood. Life has been curtailed in some form by Covid for a third of a year and covering most of your face in shops appears to be something that is easy and cheap for people to do.

I live in Bedford which has been one of the places worst hit and it has been noticeable how mask wearing in the most vulnerable parts of the town has increased sharply in the past fortnight.

This latest measure applies to just in shops and I wonder whether it will spill over into most aspects of life outside the home. It is a bit of a faff getting masks on and off so if you are going shopping you’ll probably wear it all the time.

It should be noted that this measure relates to just England though other parts of the UK have brought this in earlier. The public have been ready as this from YouGov suggests.

Mike Smithson